Have you ever wanted to learn how to write a book for children but don’t know where to start?

The annual Writing for Charity conference, held this Saturday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Utah Valley University’s campus in Orem, can definitely point you in the right direction.

Author and illustrator Julie Hansen Olson describes Writing for Charity this way: “It’s a one-day conference where all the presenters donate their time so the proceeds can go to charity. At this event, writers, teachers, librarians and book lovers can engage with a multitude of professional authors in workshops, critique sessions and panels. In addition, those wishing to break into the publishing industry can sign up for a one-on-one session with a visiting literary agent … which is a huge opportunity.”

This year’s sessions cover a range of topics, from picture-book writing to researching to plotting to making it through a novel’s “murky middle.” Presenters read like a Who’s Who in children’s publishing. Best-selling and award-winning authors include Ally Condie, Carol Lynch Williams, Matthew Kirby, Lindsey Leavitt Brown, Kristyn Crow, Elaine Jarvik Birch, Sara B. Larsen and Kathryn Purdie.

The conference was the brainchild of Newbery Honor winner Shannon Hale, who wanted to donate in a meaningful way to an established charity by tapping into our area’s vibrant writing community. She invited fellow authors to participate and thus, in 2007, Writing for Charity was born.

Various authors have since run and participated in the conference on a strictly volunteer basis. Although proceeds have been used to benefit underprivileged children internationally, this year donations will go to Kids Cause, a Utah County organization that supplies children from families with low income with medical and dental care, as well as basic supplies for school.

Mette Ivie Harrison, who writes for young readers and adults, is excited about contributing to this year’s chosen charity: “We have a chance as a community to unite to help kids in need right here in Utah. I love the feeling of helping by doing what I do best.”

Charities aren’t the only ones who benefit from the conference. Conferencegoers, as well as the authors and illustrators themselves, speak to its value.

Rosalyn Eves, a debut young-adult author, says this: “Writing for Charity was one of the first conferences I attended when I was starting to get back into writing seven years ago. I’d never been around so many published authors, and they were all so friendly and approachable! In addition to learning about writing techniques and the publishing world, I came away feeling inspired and optimistic about wiring.”

Jean Reagan, author of the best-selling “How to” books, loves the conference because “it’s just plain FUN … for the authors and participants. Laugh-out-loud fun. No one needs to feel intimidated.”

Kristyn Crow, who has headed the event for a number of years, sums things up best when she says: “Writing can be a lonely enterprise, and our young readers are our livelihood. They give us so much. We want to give back. We can use our writing skills to educate and do some good. This conference is about writers, both published and non, spending quality time together.”

Harrison echoes this sentiment: “I also love meeting aspiring authors who are trying to do what they can to help, as well!”

To register, visit the Writing for Charity website — writingforcharity.org.